PLANO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – As the veteran population continues to grow in North Texas, there’s concern the Plano VA Clinic is limiting who can visit.
A sign on the door suggests a change in enrollment requirements, but a spokesperson for the VA described them as more of suggestions.
When the Plano clinic opened in 2016 it was estimated they could enroll around 6,000 veterans and now they’re close to capacity.
The VA spokesperson said in the last few years in Collin County, the veteran population has grown about 7 to 9 percent a year.
Veterans enrolled at the clinic said originally, to enroll they had to be least 77 years old, 30 percent service-connected disabled and live within 15 miles of the clinic.
A few weeks ago, a sign was posted on the door saying veterans need to be at least 75, living within a 5 mile radius or have a 50 percent disability rating living within a 5-mile radius.
There was a lot of confusion. Many veterans wondered would they have to drive to the next closest clinic around 20 miles away.
The VA spokesperson said they’ll never turn anyone away. The hope is that those who do not meet the enrollment requirements will go to another clinic that doesn’t see as much foot traffic, such as the Grand Prairie location.
“It’s becoming a struggle for those of us who served the country,” veteran Bobby Sides said. “We have more and more veterans coming in. They do not have enough providers. They do not have enough space.”
Sides said the VA clinics can’t keep up, many are coming close to capacity and the wait times getting out of control.
He said more needs to be done and suggests the VA operates as a payment processor.
“If a person or a provider was licensed in the state that we could select where to go and we could work with that
professional and the VA would pay the bill,” he said.
The VA is trying to turn a closed hospital in Garland into a clinic. The hope is to secure it by the summer and then operations would be able to start in around 90 days after that.